Metaphors and similes are an imaginative galaxy which greater minds than mine have explored. That doesn’t stop me gathering dazzling and original examples to enliven human exchange, expanding the choice of vigorous, beautiful ways to sharpen how we think, read, write and speak.

As ancient as …

As ancient as …

As a simile for 'ancient' you could use a range of places and races, but here the intoning of the prayer makes 'Jewish' particularly appropriate.  In other contexts, we could say as ancient as China; as ancient as Babylon; as ancient as a trireme...And he began...

As puny as …

As puny as …

An ideologically committed army officer expects her child to be born robust and struggle-ready, and is disappointed by his neo-natal vulnerability and apparent weediness.  She soon abandons him to the care of the poor family who provided her with a room in which to...

Like fluid sculptures

Like fluid sculptures

A fine idea to describe a flotilla of sail boats, as liquid sculptures, and note too that passing flock of egrets whose appearance is likened to a ripple of applause. On the river egrets break upon the skyline in a blinding ripple of applause, disturbed by a flotilla...

Folded in

Folded in

Something about this loose, large mixing of sky into sea that evokes a huge basin in which a celestial cake of light, air and water is being made.  I arrive late one night beneath a loose black sky lazily folded into the sea. Source: Justin Marozzi, The Man Who...

Sitting pigeons

Sitting pigeons

You can see these pigeons plumply decorating the trees - we have wood pigeons who bill and coo in the branches, and indeed, they bring a soothing sense of fattened plenty with them. The pigeons were sitting in the trees like fattened Christmas decorations.Source: Adam...

Over-qualified

Over-qualified

A simile for someone being over-qualified for a given task.  From Nicolson's enchanting book about Sissinghurst.      It was like having the engineer on the Aswan dam supervise the building of your pond.  Why was he doing it?Source: Adam Nicolson, Sissinghurst: An...

Someday the history of metaphor will be written and we shall at last grasp all the truths and misconceptions in which this intensely speculative subject abounds.  

Source: Jorge Luis Borges, On Writing, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2010, p. 45

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How many lifetimes does it take to learn the facts of life?  

(And how long do you have to live to recover from them…?) 

Is it fact that helps us recover – or is it metaphor?  

Source: Molly Peacock,The Paper Garden (London: Bloomsbury, 2012), p. 63 – click here for the bestellar review of this glorious book.

The thinker, with his metaphors, will illuminate the external world through intangible ideas that for him are intimate and immediate.   

Source: Jorge Luis Borges, On Writing, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2010, p. 6

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